I had a dream….

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, I borrowed Futureman’s time spinner and took it out for a walk……
The Traveler.

I had been walking since early this morning. It’s tough to get around when you don’t have a car; I could have tried to rent one but it would have started people asking too many questions to which I didn’t really have answers. None that they would have understood, anyway.

Instead, I kept on the backroads mostly, trying not to draw too much attention. My shoes weren’t made for walking on this semi-dirt road that I was using, and I would have stood out like a sore thumb if I’d shuffled down the main highway just a few yards away. The dirt and dust had started working their way into my socks, and it really sucked.

The heat of the day was starting to get to me, and the comical hat I’d made out of discarded newspaper was not helping too much. Funny how people stopped using hats; you see them everywhere in the old films and newsreels. People even wore them to the baseball game. Strange. It would have been easier if I had been traveling up North in the Empire or Garden States. But I was now making my way down some God-forsaken road in the Peach State. Georgia was definitely in my mind. And inside of my dusty shoes and sweaty socks.

Up ahead I spied salvation in the form of a diner. I couldn’t miss the gorgeous curves of the roof or the efficient use of space in that old trailer that was now serving as a diner. It looked like it had just driven up the road and broken down at this spot in the woods. And now it was serving burgers and leaking all sorts of delicious smells into the air. I trudged up to the door and went inside.

The air was cool and the smells warm and inviting. This old wreck must have some primitive air conditioning unit chugging smoke out in back and I hoped that it wouldn’t break down until after I’d had some lunch. Some old coot was greasing down the grill and talking to himself. He looked like your typical movie cook and I half-expected to see an anchor tattooed on his arm. Maybe I should have called out “Cookie” to see if he turned my way. I was afraid to make him move; the ash on the cigarette dangling from his lips was pretty long and I certainly did not want it spicing up my food.

The booths were all empty as were the barstools. The old coot and this old heap of a diner should have broken down nearer to the main highway; he would have more customers that way. In any case, I sidled up to the counter, put down my backpack and started checking out the eats and drinks. First thing I noticed at once was the clean smell of PineSol; it really got my appetite going. There was a nice fresh-made apple pie under glass right in front of me, and I just knew there were ice-cold Cokes (in glass bottles!) cooling their heels in a hidden icebox, somewhere. Just waiting for me to finish that tasty burger, of course.

And then the old coot spoke.

“Hey boy, you can’t eat here.” The words were mechanical and I took a couple of seconds to parse them out. He was probably too tired to continue talking, so he half-heartedly pointed to a grungy sign on the wall: “Whites only.” I had seen pictures of this sign, and they all looked as dirty as this particular sign now in front of me. The historian in me was fascinated by this whole scenario playing out right NOW in real time in a forgotten part of the world. The good man in my should have been outraged at this injustice. The hungry man in me just wanted a piece of that pie and a cold Coke.

It must have been 30 seconds before I started thinking again. An Eternity staring at the old coot. Now I noticed that his eyes were tired and that he looked a lot like a grandfather I once had. His voice was firm but his eyes were weak and he seemed exhausted by the whole charade. I think if we’d had a chance to switch places, he would have taken that opportunity and walked out of that place. But he had his place and apparently, I had mine. I just shrugged, picked up my backpack and walked out the door.

The sun was still out but now I felt cold. It poured down on my head and neck and burned the exposed black skin on my hands. Time to go back home, if I could find a way.

3 thoughts on “I had a dream….”

  1. Ah, but we could use some of those grungy signs on the wall right now.
    Ones that say “English only” would do nicely.
    (This is everyone’s cue to hate me.)

    Anyone selling a one way ticket to Alaska?

  2. I am sure there are countries that limit which languages you are allowed to speak, and I’m glad I’m not in one of them. When I think of different cultures, I just think about all the great foods they give us. Sometimes to get great food, you gotta wander into a place where the only English is on the menu and just point. Also, I think girls speaking French is hot, although there isn’t much of that around here.

    If I don’t know what the babes are saying, I just assume it’s something like this:

    “I totally want to do that guy.”
    “Which guy??
    “The handsome, secret-agent-looking one over there.?
    “The big one??
    “Fat chance, I bet he only dates models.?
    “I’m sure of it. If I thought there was any chance at all, we’d both be in bed with him right now.”
    “For reals.”

    If it’s guys, I’m pretty sure this is what they’re saying:

    “Dude, we can’t rob the bank now, look at that guy!”
    “I know, he’d totally thwart our plans.”
    “We’re only packing sawed-off shotguns. That won’t be enough.”
    “We could hit on that totally hot teller…”
    “No way, that’s probably his girlfriend. Even if she isn’t, we don’t stand a chance with him around.”

    I think you’ll go through life a lot happier that way.

  3. Those points are great, but when your trying to find a local school that’s “just like the one I grew up in”. It just ain’t possible in Jersey anymore.
    My kids speak a few spanish words at 4, and although I’ll never tell them what to say or watch… I can’t help it. I just don’t like it.

    Work has become hell as I can’t communicate with more than half the staff without the resident translater. Not joking.
    My neighbor across the street owns too many cars (actually, the CORRECT amount for the number of people crammed into the house.) to fit in BOTH their double-wide driveways, so they park all around my house, yet I can’t complain.
    Because when I try to knock on their door, they just stare at me through the windows because none of them speak english.

    Cultural diversity is how the country first expanded, sure, and I don’t care if Arabs pump my gas or Hindus hand me a slurpee because they’ve taken the time to learn the language.

    But when we HAVE to change our culture because of a few rude foriegners… it makes me mad. (“Don’t say Merry Christmas it hurts my feelings, I’m a Muslum, waaaa boohoo”)
    I mean, if I’m moving to Tokyo, you can be damn sure I’m studying THEIR culture before I go, and not expecting THEM to change for ME.

    Your right.
    Maybe “Engish only” is a bit too harsh.
    How about “English First”?

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